By Rick EmertOctober 30, 2009
FORT CARSON, Colo.-Leaders from Fort Carson and civic leaders from the Pikes Peak region gathered at El Pomar Foundation's Penrose House Oct. 22 for a ceremony to sign the Army Community Covenant.
The covenant, a pledge of support for Soldiers and their Families, is signed in communities near Army installations worldwide.
"The community covenant was designed ... to rally the support of the community to come together and make a strong commitment toward our men and women in uniform and their Families that ... while they are in harm's way protecting our nation - our freedom - that that the community stands strongly behind them," said Terrance McWilliams, a former Fort Carson command sergeant major who is now the director of military support for the El Pomar Foundation, during remarks at the signing ceremony.
Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera said Fort Carson's Soldiers and Families are part of the family in the Pikes Peak region.
"In Colorado Springs, we will do everything we can to make sure to take care of men and women in uniform and their Families," Rivera said. "You are a part of our family, part of our community. We don't view you as the installation just south of us; we view you as part of the Pikes Peak region and part of our family."
The 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson Commanding General Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins called the covenant a "sacred document ... built upon faith" and noted that Soldiers have their own covenant.
"We have almost 50,000 Soldiers and Families on Fort Carson of which about 5,000 are currently deployed in combat right now. We will continue to deploy ... thousands from Fort Carson," Perkins said. "They have a covenant with our nation that they are sworn to defend our liberty, the liberty of all the people in this nation as well as those around the world, and over 400 of those Soldiers from 4th Infantry Division have paid the ultimate sacrifice in living up to their part of their covenant.
"We will sign the covenant here in ink, but those Soldiers signed their covenant in blood."
Perkins said the support from the surrounding communities allows Soldiers to deploy without worrying about their Families back on the home front.
"We have ... Soldiers in harm's way with their Families back here. Seventy percent of those Families actually live off post," he said. "The fact that the community will sign a covenant basically agreeing to continue to support them with numbers of programs and quite honestly just sort of helping their morale and their esprit de corps means the world to the Soldiers who are in Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever they are."
While the Mountain Post's Soldiers and Family members may not know all of the programs available to them in their off-post communities, they do notice the support from the community, Perkins said.
"They might not know every little detail, but probably what is more important to them is that they feel the support that's out there, whether it's just people coming up to them on the street and saying 'thank you for serving,' whether it's donations people make," he said. "They have this sense that they live in a community where people appreciate the sacrifice they are making as Soldiers."